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Aug 10, 2009

Cuban Health and Economic News

Cuba must replace tractors with oxen
07/02/09 PDF Info Bulletins Cuba by Will Weissert (AP)
  (search: oxen)

[edited] President Raul Castro suggested expanding a pilot program, giving private farmers unused government land to cultivate.

"For this program we should forget about tractors and fuel, even if we had enough. The idea is to work basically with oxen. An increasing number of growers have been doing exactly this with excellent results."

The agricultural ministry proposed increasing the use of oxen to save fuel. Factory closings and turning off air conditioners at government offices has saved oil. The ministry said it had more than 265,000 oxen "capable of matching, and in some cases overtaking, machines in labor load and planting."

Cuba is running out of toilet paper
08/10/09 - Reuters by Nelson Acosta and Esteban Israel

[edited] An official with state conglomerate Cimex said: "The corporation has taken all the steps so that at the end of the year there will be an important importation of toilet paper."

The shipment will enable the state-run company "to supply this demand that today is presenting problems." Cuba both imports toilet paper and produces its own, but does not currently have enough raw materials to make it.

- 09/04/10 - Comment by JC DeCardenas at Cafe Hayek

[edited]  Ha, ha. I left Cuba in 1994. It is like time has frozen in the island. They must be talking about toilet paper for the foreign currency shops or the hotels. Cimex is a military run corporation that manages imports and hotels.

When I was a child in the 1960's we got a ration of toilet paper every now and then that was never enough. Most people supplemented it with newspapers. Wiping on Castro's pictures compensated somewhat for the roughness. Even that ration disappeared years later.

Environmentalism and its proposals always remind me of the hardships in Cuba, everything from using rags for personal hygiene, using the same cloth bags for groceries, and bicycles for moving around.

CNN reports Cuba is a model for a U.S. healthcare plan
08/10/09 - American Thinker by Humberto Fontova

[edited] The CNN report included clips from Michael Moore's "Sicko". CNN's Morgan Neill reported on location from a Havana hospital. "Cuba's infant mortality rates are the lowest in the hemisphere, in line with those of Canada!"

According to 2009 UN figures for infant mortality per 1000 live birtihs, Canada ranks 23rd best at 4.8, Cuba ranks 28th at 5.1, and The U.S. is 33rd with 6.3.  [My link and figures -ag]

Other statistics and reports question the truth of Cuba's rank.

  • According to the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, the mortality rate of children aged one to four years in Cuba is 11.8, 34% higher than the 8.8 U.S. rate.

    This statistic doesn't figure into UN and World Health Organization spotlighted "infant-mortality rates", so there is no pressure to fudge these figures.

  • Dr. Juan Felipe García, MD, of Jacksonville, Fla., in April 2001, interviewed several doctors who recently defected from Cuba:

    "The official Cuban infant-mortality figure is a farce. Cuban pediatricians constantly falsify figures for the regime. If an infant dies during its first year, the doctors often report he was older. Otherwise, such lapses could cost him severe penalties and his job."

  • The maternal mortality rate per 1000 births is Cuba at 33, 3.9 times the U.S. at 8.4 .

The comparison to the U.S. is too strange. Many more Cuban mothers and children aged 1-4 die in Cuba, but the statistic reported to the UN for "infant mortality" (age under 1 year) shows the same health as in much wealthier countries.

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The film Sicko depicts a "mythical" Cuban healthcare system
12/17/10 - Guardian UK by Amelia Hill   (via Samizdata)

[edited]:  Sicko is Michael Moore's 2007 documentary. It attempted to discredit the US healthcare system by comparing it to the excellence of the socialist Cuban system.

WikiLeaks has revealed a confidential US embassy cable. Cuban authorities criticized the film for painting a mythically favourable picture of Cuba's healthcare system. They feared it could lead to a popular backlash by showing facilities that are clearly not available to the vast majority of Cubans. A group of Cuban doctors saw the film. Some left the room, disturbed at the blatant misrepresentation of healthcare in Cuba.

Sicko showed the Hermanos Ameijeiras hospital in October 2007. It was built in 1982 and newly renovated. This was prsented as evidence of the high-quality of healthcare available to all Cubans.

But according to the cable, Cubans may only access this hospital by offering bribes or using contacts inside the hospital administration. "Cubans are very resentful that the best hospital in Havana is off-limits to them."

The cable says the Calixto Garcia Hospital gives a more accurate view of the average Cuban's healthcare experience. This dilapidated hospital was built in the 1800s, and reminds one of a scene from some of the poorest countries in the world.

The Cuban ruling elite seeks serious medical care outside of Cuba.

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Useful Idiots at PBS
12/28/10 - PowerLine Blog by Scott Johnson

He describes a recent, naive PBS story, and collects accounts of how terrible Cuban healthcare really is.

Jay Nordlinger provides a realistic and shocking account.

[edited]:  Hospitals and clinics are crumbling. Conditions are so unsanitary that patients may be better off at home. If they go to the hospital, they must bring their own bedsheets, soap, towels, food, light bulbs, and toilet paper. In Sicko, even sophisticated medications are plentiful and cheap. In the real Cuba, an antibiotic will fetch a fortune on the black market.

A nurse reported: "We have nothing. I haven't seen aspirin in a Cuban store for more than a year. If you have any pills in your purse, I'll take them. Even if they have passed their expiry date."

Socialist Cuba spends almost nothing on healthcare by American standards. Then, they make up great statistics and convince the true believers that they are achieving more with so much less. The only way to match Cuba is to adopt a socialist system in the US and make up our own statistics.

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The truth about Cuba’s healthcare
12/20/10 - Fausta's Blog &emsp (Via Instapundit)

A PBS story by Ray Suarez applauds Cuba for having great healthcare for such a poor country. This has produced detailed criticism of his naive story.

Fausta [edited]:  Suarez forgets to mention that the statistics for these claims are provided by the Cuban government. That government has refused permission to any independent, outside organization to examine the statistics, the criteria for the data, or how the statistics are gathered. Suarez can’t seem to realize that any statistics put out by a totalitarian regime in a closed society are to be questioned.
The Miami Herald reports details from a US foreign service cable describing the healthcare experience for the Cuban populace [edited].
Some medical institutions are reserved for Cuba’s ruling elites and foreigners who pay in hard currencies. These institutions are hygienically qualified and have a wide array of diagnostic equipment, a full complement of laboratories, well-stocked pharmacies, and private patient suites with cable television and bathrooms.

Hospitals and clinics used by average Cubans don’t come close. The Hermanos Ameijeiras Hospital is partly reserved for foreign patients, and was featured in Sicko. There, a “gift” of $22 to the hospital administrator helps average Cubans obtain better treatment.

The exterior of the Ramon Gonzalez Coro OB-Gyn hospital was dilapidated and crumbling, and its Newborn Intensive Care Unit was using a very old `Bird’ infant respirator, a model used in the U.S. in the 1970s.

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USA Healthcare is First - Infant Mortality is Low

Health statistics are intentionally misinterpreted to argue for socialized medicine. The major argument is that the US spends more than Europe, but lags behind in health outcomes. So, US healthcare is both expensive and inefficient.

Actually, the USA has better health when you consider sociological differences, such much higher auto accident fatalities in the USA.

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